We talk to Serge Prins of the De Kleine Prins bar on Bagijnestraat in The Hague about his journey in hospitality and how he and his partner have established De Kleine Prins as one of the most renowned gin-focussed bars in the Netherlands.
“Sandra and I went started looking for our own bar venue in 2009. After 6 years in the hospitality industry, I decided I wanted to be my own boss and Sandra was tired of her office job.
We found the bar on Bagijnestraat through a brewery representative. We new as soon as we saw it that is was perfect, so signed and opened on 3 December 2009.
I quickly fell in love with gin: you have so much variety in taste which allows you to come up with great flavour combinations, just like a chef would in a kitchen. I worked in the fruit and vegetable business for 10 years, so I can also apply that knowledge perfectly to create the most beautiful and flavoursome gin and tonics.
At the moment at De Kleine Prins, we have about 200 different gins and around 30 bottled tonic waters. The most popular gins are the ones that I prefer: Passion4gin followed by Nolet’s and Bobby’s.
When I decided I wanted to make my own gin [Passsion4gin], I chose distillery Onder de Boompjes because they work with the same passion and enthusiasm as I do. In addition, they produce a number of delicious liquors using traditional methods, just as it should be. Our collaboration demonstrates how a quality product can be made, rather than just filling bottles with generic liquor and shipping out.
During the development of Passion4gin, we took premium and exotic citrus fruits (Buddha finger, yuzu, kumquat, bergamot and sanguinello) and distilled them separately in different alcohol percentages then blended them together until we had the taste we wanted. The whole process took about one-and-a-half years but it was worth it. The resulting gin is a very soft, flavoursome gin with a beautiful citrus note.
For people who are stuck at home at the moment, I have a few tips to enjoy a better gin and tonic. Firstly, invest in your tonic. A good tonic can bring up a lesser gin whilst a bad tonic can ruin a good gin.
Secondly, instead of lemon or lime try a slightly softer taste such as mandarin or mineola [a hybrid of mandarin and grapefruit] and only use the skin of the fruit – twist it to get the oil out, because that is where the real taste and smell is”.